Ramos left reeling by Spain axe while Fati and Kepa were other notable absentees… but Laporte has the chance to shine and Morata is tasked with delivering the goods: How does Luis Enrique’s likely starting line-up at the Euros compare to his ditched XI?
- There were plenty of talking points after Luis Enrique named his Spain squad
- The most notable absentee from the Euros squad was veteran Sergio Ramos
- Others who missed out include Kepa, Sergio Reguilon, Marco Asensio and Fati
- Here, Sportsmail compares Spain’s likely Euro 2020 XI vs the ditched XI
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.
Luis Enrique dropped a bombshell on Monday after excluding Sergio Ramos from his Spain squad ahead of this summer’s eagerly-anticipated Euros.
But there were plenty of other talking points from Enrique’s announcement, including the omissions of Kepa Arrizabalaga and Marco Asensio while Barcelona’s teenage sensation Ansu Fati agonisingly misses out through his long-term knee injury.
In fact, it was the first time ever that no Real Madrid players have been called up to represent Spain at a major tournament, with Nacho Hernandez also missing out despite being one of Real’s most consistent performers this season.
There were some big talking points after Luis Enrique named his Spain squad for the Euros
Enrique’s 24-man squad didn’t include Spain and Real Madrid stalwart Sergio Ramos
The likes of Aymeric Laporte, Eric Garcia and Co have been given the chance to prove their worth for Spain instead, while Alvaro Morata has been been tasked with producing the goods up top.
However, when you look back at Spain’s history and their golden period between 2008 and 2012, Enrique’s latest squad is rather underwhelming and massively lacks household names such as Andres Iniesta, Xavi, David Villa and Co.
Here, Sportsmail has decided to compare Enrique’s likely starting line-up to the axed XI ahead of this summer’s delayed Euros…
AXED XI (4-3-3)
Kepa has endured a nightmare time at Chelsea and has largely watched on from the sidelines after failing to impress in between the sticks at Stamford Bridge. And his exclusion doesn’t really come as a surprise.
But the Spaniard is still the most expensive goalkeeper in history, having signed for £72million from Athletic Bilbao, and when you’re leaving out a player with such a big price-tag, then of course it will hit the news…
Kepa Arrizabalaga missed out on Spain’s squad following his nightmare time at Chelsea
Vazquez is almost as unlucky to miss out as Real Madrid team-mate Ramos. The Spaniard, who had been used at right back by Zinedine Zidane for the majority of the season, is absent due to a posterior crucial ligament injury in his right knee.
It’s a major blow for Vazquez, who had deputised very well at right back for Madrid prior to his injury – having become one of the club’s most consistent performers in the absence of Dani Carvajal.
This is the big one, a decision that shocked the whole of Spain and Europe. Enrique decided to drop Spain’s all-time appearance maker (180) from his squad. But perhaps it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as we may think.
The veteran centre back’s campaign was riddled with injuries and he only made 21 appearances in all competitions for Real Madrid, including 15 LaLiga games.
When announcing his exclusion, Enrique said: ‘I’d like to send message to Sergio Ramos, our captain, who is not on the list as he has not been able to compete since January in the right condition, or even train.’
Ramos, Spain’s all-time appearance maker, was the biggest exclusion from the squad
Earlier on in the campaign, Reguilon looked a likely candidate for the Spain squad thanks to his fine performances for new club Tottenham but his form has since petered out and in fact, it was a tough ending to the season for the left back.
Reguilon hasn’t been helped by a strong selection in the left back department for Spain, with Jordi Alba and Jose Gaya making the cut instead.
Parejo, 32 years of age, has enjoyed a strong campaign in the heart of midfield for Villarreal – helping his side reach the Europa League final.
However, it was always going to be a very uphill task for him to make the final cut due to the presence of Rodri and Sergio Busquets in the heart of midfield. Another position where Spain have a vast array of talent.
The Atletico Madrid star was another notable absentee from Enrique’s Euros squad – especially considering he is a potential match-winner on his day.
But the 26-year-old Spaniard didn’t endure his best of seasons for the LaLiga champions – netting just twice in the top-flight, his lowest tally since 2017-18, and creating only one assist.
Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez was another notable omission from the travelling party
Real Betis midfielder Canales is another unlucky star to miss out on a place in Enrique’s squad after a fine season in Spain.
The attacking midfielder produced a fine return in front of goal for Betis this season, scoring 10 goals and creating six assists in 34 matches across all competitions. He would stand out in most international XI’s right now.
A few years back, Asensio had been heralded as one of the most exciting players in world football after emerging in style for Spanish giants Real Madrid but a long-term knee injury derailed his big plans.
However, he has since put his injury hell behind him and enjoyed a strong campaign for Zidane’s men – specifically towards the end of the season at just the right time for his Euro hopes. But he has just missed out, and may feel hard done by.
This one is such a shame. Fati had broke through as one of the best talents in the game at the beginning of the season for Barcelona. After a summer of discontent, his emergence lifted the spirits at the Nou Camp and he was delivering the goods when the experienced stars were struggling.
But a serious knee injury sustained in November last year ruined his chances of going to the Euros. Before that, he had scored five times in 10 matches for Barca, and had become Spain’s youngest ever goalscorer. He had appeared a shoo-in.
Ansu Fati’s long-term knee injury shattered his chances of featuring at this summer’s Euros
With Spain struggling for real firepower in the centre forward position, Aspas’ omission comes particularly as a surprise given his impressive form for Celta Vigo during the 2020-21 campaign.
The 33-year-old, formerly of Liverpool, shone for Celta Vigo – grabbing 14 goals and creating 15 assists for his team-mates in 34 fixtures overall.
OVERALL RATING: 73/110
LIKELY XI (4-1-4-1)
It has been some battle for the No 1 spot, with Kepa having emerged as Enrique’s main pick before David de Gea eventually claimed his position back. But now it appears to be Simon’s time to shine.
The Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper has started Spain’s last five matches and with De Gea struggling to convince still for both club and country and Brighton’s Robert Sanchez new to the international fold, he is set to keep hold of Spain’s No 1 spot at the Euros.
Unai Simon (right) has made the No 1 spot for Spain his own ahead of David de Gea and Kepa
Atletico Madrid midfielder Llorente has been pressed into a defensive role for Spain in recent times in due to injuries in the right back position.
With Carvajal missing out due to injury while Sergi Roberto has failed to convince after recovering from his own thigh setback, Llorente could start for Spain in defence – having featured at right back in two out of the last four games for his country.
Torres has emerged as one of the most formidable and exciting centre backs around, and has attracted interest from Premier League giants Manchester United in recent times.
Torres has played a crucial role in guiding Villarreal to Wednesday’s Europa League final in Gdansk and he is set to play a key part in the next chapter for Spain.
Manchester City centre back Laporte has made the cut after switching his international allegiance from France to Spain, and he could form a strong centre back partnership alongside Torres.
Laporte hasn’t had it all his own way at City this season, with Pep Guardiola favouring the pairing of Ruben Dias and John Stones at the back, but on his day, he is one of the best defenders around thanks to his combative style and composure on the ball.
Aymeric Laporte made the Spain squad after switching international allegiances from France
Enrique is fortunate to have strong candidates for the left back position, with Alba vying for a place alongside Valencia star Gaya ahead of the Euros.
But Alba, who has started Spain’s last two World Cup qualifiers against Kosovo and Georgia, perhaps just gets the nod due to his experience and his threat going forward down the left.
Rodri will start in the holding midfield role for the Spaniards at the Euros after playing an ever-present and reliable role in Man City’s Premier League title-winning triumph this season.
The Spaniard’s ability to break up play and composure to start counter-attacks stands out, and he is likely to keep out Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets at the summer’s flagship tournament.
The diminutive midfielder endured a tough start to life at Liverpool but he would eventually show his class and justify why exactly he is one of the best creators in world football after playing a starring role in the Reds’ run to a Champions League spot.
Thiago is ageing like a fine wine, and while Enrique may have younger players at his disposal, surely the Liverpool star will start at the Euros thanks to his experience and class on the biggest stage.
Thiago Alcantara will be hoping to pull the strings in midfield for his country at the Euros
Koke appears the man to partner Thiago in the central midfield position, and their experience could prove vital as Spain look to make it to the latter stages of the competition – following horror showings at the 2016 Euros and the 2018 World Cup, in which they exited at the last 16 stage.
But the likes of Canales, Saul Niguez and Co may feel hard done by following his inclusion. It certainly hasn’t been a fruitful season going forward for Atletico captain Koke, who lifted the LaLiga crown on the weekend, scoring just once and laying on two assists in 45 matches overall.
Man City attacker Torres looks likely to start for Spain on the right wing after becoming a rather important figure to Enrique in recent times.
Torres, who has extremely exciting potential and has shown it for City this season when given the chance, has shone for Spain and regularly got himself on the scoresheet. His hat-trick heroics in the 6-0 drubbing of Germany stand out.
Man City’s Ferran Torres, who has big potential, has become an important player for Spain
RB Leipzig star Olmo will most likely start on the opposite wing to Torres after becoming an established member of Spain’s senior squad.
After scoring on his debut and following that up with an assist in his next outing for Spain, he has definitely not looked back and will be hoping to terrorise defences at the Euros thanks to his creativity and trickery on the flank.
It appears to be a straight shoot-out between Villarreal’s main man Gerard Moreno and Morata for the centre forward spot but it appears that the latter is favourite to start up top this summer.
Morata has started five out of Spain’s last six matches, and enjoyed a decent return for Juventus this season – netting 20 times and creating 12 assists in 44 matches in all competitions.
OVERALL RATING: 83/110
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